European Union Members Reneging on Environmental Promises

The European Environment Agency, the environmental oversight body of the European Union, released a report last week critical of how many member countries have not kept their promises regarding curbing emissions and remediating environmental problems.

The report, “EEA Signals 2004,” cites major environmental problems across Europe, especially water contamination from agricultural run-off, urban air pollution, suburban sprawl, and increasing packaging waste. It also called on European consumers to play a bigger role in demanding compliance with environmental standards.

Report author and EEA executive director Jacqueline McGlade decried the cost of environmental remediation efforts, which is reportedly topping $12 billion per year across the E.U.

“Such figures suggest that managing Europe’s natural resources is increasingly important for ensuring the viability of Europe’s economic and social capital," said McGlade. “This is money that could otherwise be spent in productive ways, for example to promote competitiveness and innovation, which are defining conditions for delivering sustainable economic growth.”

McGlade further commented that the problems highlighted in the report signal the need for the development and implementation of more market-based instruments to improve environmental performance across the E.U.